Pearl millet ... New crop not just for the birds

Dr Peter Lawrence: evaluating imported dwarf-grain varieties of pearl millet as a new dryland feed grain crop.

DWARF grain pearl millet ~ a new crop for Australia ~ is potentially an alternative specialist feed grain and could also provide an attractive spring planting option to sorghum in Queensland's low-rainfall cropping areas.

A five-year project supported by growers and the Federal Government through the GRDC is evaluating imported dwarf-grain varieties of pearl millet as a new dry land feed grain crop.

The crop offers several risk-lowering advantages to growers such as a shorter crop cycle, better heat tolerance and a lower water requirement than sorghum. In particular, pearl millet has the ability to yield well in dryland conditions and on sandy soils.

Poultry diet

Evaluation work in Biloela by project partner Queensland Department of Primary Industries has shown pearl millet can produce favourable yields as well as economic benefits for both producers and end users. In poultry diets, incorporation of pearl millet can significantly reduce the sorghum, wheat and soybean components of the feed ration. Grain protein content is up to 15 per cent and contains all of the essential fatty acids for monogastric animals, making it an attractive replacement feed grain for poultry and swine.

Current pearl millet varieties in Australia are forage or dual-purpose forage/grain types with no specific grain varieties yet available.

Program 2.3.1 Contact: Dr Peter Lawrence 07 4992 9135

Region North